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Healthy options hit snack shelves.

BY Barbara White-Sax

Remember when snacks meant just chips or pretzels, and tortilla chips seemed a little exotic? Now when consumers want to snack, they have a plethora of choices ranging from rice cakes to freeze-dried fruit. Increasingly, those snacking options are better-for-you products.

“The market has completely diversified,” said Morningstar analyst Erin Swanson. “There are so many different options for consumers, and there’s no lack of healthy snacking products since that market has expanded.”

A recent study from Mintel suggested that even in this economy, consumers are trading up for more upscale, and often healthier, snack options—particularly when those products offer them something beyond a quick snack fix.

Christine Brown, marketing manager for Natural Snacks, said consumers are demanding more from their snacks than just an indulgence. “People want snacking to be an opportunity to fulfill nutritional requirements, such as a whole grain serving,” she said. “It’s not just a treat anymore.”

Natural Snacks new Jalapeno Puffs, baked puffs made with organic cornmeal, are an example of a better-for-you alternative to a traditional snack. Baked snacks have surged in popularity as consumers turn away from fried products with a high fat content.

Products made from corn, rice and nuts have become more popular. A recent study from Mintel reported that sales of trail mix and rice/popcorn cakes substantially grew (17%) in food, drug and mass over the past few years, although those snacks still account for a small percentage of overall category sales.

Nuts also are being used in new ways. New nut chips and crisps made with pistachios or almonds, the Mintel report said, capitalize on the high nutrient value of nuts. Consumers can feel almost virtuous snacking on a chip that has a high fiber and antioxidant content. Frito-Lay’s True North Nut Crisps and Blue Diamond’s Nut Thins are two examples of successful nut crackers that offer consumers new snacking options.

Increasingly, drug stores are making a push into the better-for-you snacks. Under its Deerfield Farms label, Walgreens markets Flax granola bars, as well as a number of dried fruit products. CVS’s Gold Emblem brand includes trail mixes and granola bars.

Duane Reade’s DR Delish product lineup features trail mix and dried fruit, but the chain had created some interesting trail mix crunches and included soy crisps. Walgreens, which is making its own foray into fresh convenience foods, could follow the Delish lead as it absorbs the Duane Reade stores.

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Survey finds shoppers with a plan spend most money

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO Coupon clippers and shoppers that plan their excursions to the supermarket are more likely to spend more money, according to a Henkel survey.

Henkel, a manufacturer of such brands as Dial soap, said that those who go to supermarkets with the intent to shop and save yield more profit than carefree shoppers. On average, coupon clippers spent more than $7,100 last year. What’s more, Henkel added, these shoppers accounted for 31% of spending on packaged goods in 2009, even though they only make up 26% of U.S. households.

Another interesting fact, the CPG maker noted, is that shoppers with a plan also are less likely to shop at new stores.

The survey was baed on tracking of about 40,000 households performed by ACNielsen and Information Resources Inc.

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Bayer aspirin quick release crystals

BY Michael Johnsen

CVS had this citrus-flavored Bayer aspirin quick release crystals clip-stripped within adult dentures. And while this product isn’t the 81 mg of aspirin recommended for daily consumption to prevent a second heart attack (it contains 850 mg in each powder pouch), there is still a very strong need for this kind of easily stored/quickly administered aspirin product for seniors.

Sufferers of any heart attack are recommended to chew and swallow aspirin just after they’ve dialed 911 and called for help. As the first aid for heart attacks, aspirin makes platelets less sticky and can minimize blood clot formation and prevent further blockage of the artery.

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